HomeUS CoinsGold Dollar, Type 3 (Large Head) 1856-1889 | CoinWeek

Gold Dollar, Type 3 (Large Head) 1856-1889 | CoinWeek

1888 Gold Dollar. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1888 Gold Dollar. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..

Type 1 | Type 2 | Type 3

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In 1856, the United States Mint released a newly durable gold dollar, what collectors now call the Type 3. Dubbed the “Large Head” type, Longacre’s new design was very similar to that of the Small Head type (see Type 2, above). However, the size of the Indian head on the obverse increased while becoming flatter. Liberty’s portrait and headdress design were both improved, and the lettering of the legend was strengthened.

The Philadelphia Mint produced the coin each year throughout the remainder of the denomination’s run, but in certain years, small quantities were produced at the Charlotte, Dahlonega, and San Francisco mints. The only mintmarked example struck after the Civil War was the 1870-S Gold Dollar. The Charlotte Mint produced Type 3 Gold Dollars only in 1857 and 1859, while the Dahlonega Mint only produced Type 3 Gold Dollars continuously from 1856 to ’61. The Charlotte and Dahlonega mints halted operations permanently after being seized by their respective Confederate state governments.

Business strike mintages were typically low for the issue, but there are several years with large outputs; the dates 1857, 1861, and 1862 are popular with type collectors. The 1861 and 1862 coins are especially interesting as they are Civil War issues.

Production of the gold dollar was discontinued in 1889, but the coin continued to circulate in some areas until the country abandoned the gold standard in the early 1930s.

In addition, Proofs were minted in Philadelphia from 1859 onwards. The number of Proofs struck yearly ranges from 15 in 1856 to 1,779 in 1889. For many dates, fewer than 20-30 examples are known. Collecting the Proof Gold Dollar series is challenging, with individual coins costing upwards of $60,000 to $70,000 USD in Gem for the rare dates.

Date-by-Date Analysis of the Type 3 Gold Dollar by CoinWeek Notes

Extended Coverage on CoinWeek

In the video above, CoinWeek Editor Charles Morgan dives deep into the “Upright 5” variety of the 1856 Gold Dollar.

CoinWeek contributor and U.S. gold coin specialist Doug Winter discusses two rare Civil War-era Type 3 Proof Gold Dollars.

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Coin Specifications

Gold Dollar (Type 3)
Years Of Issue: 1856-89
Mintage (Business Strikes): High: 1,762,936 (1856); Low: 400 (1875)
Mintage (Proof): High: 1,779 (1889); Low: 12-14 known (1878)
Alloy: 90% gold, 10% copper
Weight: 1.7 g
Diameter: 14.3 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: James Barton Longacre
REV Designer: James Barton Longacre


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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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